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Best USB flash drives of 2019: Memory sticks for all your data storage needs

Buying the best USB flash drives for your needs is a necessary purchase, no matter how you're using your gear, and we're here to help. In this list for the best options, we look at USB flash drives that offer you safe and secure, portable storage for your important files.

  • Find the best deals on the best USB flash drives on Amazon Prime Day 2019.

The best USB flash drives don't just allow you to quickly and conveniently move data from one PC to another. The brilliant memory sticks in this guide are versatile drives that offer plenty of storage space despite their small form factor. The best USB flash drives are also sturdily built, so they won't get damaged when you're travelling with them. The best USB memory sticks and flash drives also need to be dependable, so they don’t fail or break, making your data vanish into thin air. This means the best flash drives feature a durable build design.

Speed is also a major factor. Not only will the best flash drives transfer files faster with a high-speed rating, but it will also make running a ‘live CD’ operating system from the flash drive possible.

To help you choose which USB storage is right for you, we’ve assembled this list of the best USB flash drives you can buy on the market today.

If USB drives are either too expensive (for the amount of storage you need) or their capacities are just not big enough (or you tend to lose them), feel free to check out our list of the best external hard drives.

Patriot Supersonic Rage 2

If you want one of the best USB flash drives, one of the fastest in particular, then the Patriot Supersonic Rage 2 is definitely the one for you. Sure, the price is high, but we were blown away with just how fast this device is. If you need to move around large files quickly, then this is definitely worth the cost.

It also comes with 128GB of storage space, which is a phenomenal amount to carry around in your pocket. Just make sure you don't lose it!

Kingston Technology DataTraveler 100 Generation 3

For the best USB flash drives, the cost of postage and packaging actually constitute more of the price than the USB stick itself. However, this incredibly compact and affordable drive is more than worth the cost of shipping.

The Kingston Technology DataTraveler 100 Generation 3 is the most affordable 64GB USB 3.0 drive on the market with read/write speeds of 150Mbps and 70Mbps respectively.

SanDisk Extreme CZ80

One of the best USB flash drives is the brilliantly priced SanDisk Extreme CZ80. It offers plenty of storage space and quick file transfer speeds. Although it's priced more towards the budget end of USB sticks, the performance is anything but budget – this is a very speedy little performer.

The slide-out design of this stick means you can tuck the USB interface into the body when not in use, minimizing the risk of it getting damaged when you're carrying it around.

Verbatim Pinstripe

This is the cheapest USB 3.0 drive on the market per GB. It comes with a two-year warranty and a capless/retractable cap design.

It’s worth noting that Verbatim – a very well-known Japanese storage and memory manufacturer – sells it on its website and often has pretty good deals on the device.

PNY Turbo 256GB

PNY is another memory vendor turned player in the USB market. As one of the best USB flash drives, it features a capped design as well as read/write speeds of 80Mbps and 20Mbps respectively.

These are not the fastest speeds out there so if you want something with more oomph, then check out some of the other USB drives in this roundup.

Patriot Viper Fang

The Patriot Supersonic is a USB 3.1 drive (compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0) from one of the most established memory players on the market, but a relative newcomer to this segment. It has a zinc alloy body with aluminum accent and reaches read/write speeds of 380Mbps and 70Mbps respectively, which is no slouch. Not only that, but it comes with a five-year warranty.

Samsung T3 SSD

We're solidly in premium territory with one of the best USB flash drives, the Samsung T3. Not only does it offer absurdly high read speeds of up to 450Mbps thanks to Samsung's own 3D V-NAND technology, it also comes with a three-year warranty and has a USB Type C connector. Note that it is much bigger than a traditional flash drive and costs about five times a traditional hard drive of a similar capacity.

In comparison, a 1TB SSD like the Samsung EVO 850 costs just £240. It comes with V-NAND like the Samsung Portable T1 and it does boast speeds of 530Mbps and 520Mbps in read/write mode respectively. Note that you will need to get a separate enclosure to get it to work with a standard USB port.

SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43

If you don't want a USB stick jutting out the side of your laptop or tablet while you use it, then a low profile USB stick is a good choice, and the SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43 is an excellent choice. It's small and light enough to easily carry around, and when it's plugged into your laptop it doesn't stick out much from the body.

It's also very cheap, at around £10 for the 32GB version, with 64GB and 128GB versions also available. It's not quite as fast as many of the best USB flash drives we mentioned here, but if you want a small form factor USB stick, it's worth the trade-off.

How to choose your USB memory sticks?

  • It's not worth looking for memory sticks smaller than 64GB simply because the price difference you pay for two or four times the storage is tiny.
  • Make sure you include delivery price when doing the numbers as quite often you end up paying more for the postage than the drive itself, particularly for low cost models.
  • USB 2.0 is sufficient for smaller capacities but not for bigger ones where write speeds can get sluggish. Larger flash drives (128GB or more) often come only with a USB 3.0 connector.
  • If you plan on moving files to and from portable devices (tablets or smartphones), consider a memory stick with a microUSB connector and a full-size USB one.
  • Avoid buying your memory sticks from vendors with little feedback on auction websites as these drives might turn out to be fake. All the vendors listed are tried and trusted ones.
  • Above 128GB, you might want to consider a SSD if you want ruggedness, portability, versatility and better performance without the cost.
  • Note that the capacities are likely to be lower than stated when they are formatted and mounted on an operating system.

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